The World Is Not Enough, Says Hitchcock

by Julia Fernandes    Aug 25, 2004

While enterprise security is a concern almost every CIO has to tackle, a question often never raised is how much of security is actually enough for companies?

“It’s never enough. Seriously,” asserted J A Hitchcock, a name synonymous with Internet crime and security.

CXOtoday spoke to the lady who dons several hats, right from being an expert in cybercrime to being the president of WHOA (Working to Halt Online Abuse) to now being the author of a book — Net Crimes & Misdemeanors: Outmaneuvering the Spammers, Swindlers, and Stalkers Who Are Targeting You Online.

According to Hitchcock, companies need to be constantly on alert for the latest technological problems that may arise, right from hackers to viruses, Trojans, etc. “Even the best firewall may not be “strong” enough to tackle these ills. Moreover, anti-virus software needs to be updated more often than the automatic live updates,” advised Hitchcock.

Sharing her concerns on some of the common security issues, she stressed, “Apart from the external threats, there is also the potential internal threat arising within the organization that cannot be ignored. For e.g., If an employee is being harassed by someone outside or inside the company, via e-mail, IM, message boards, etc, do they have the knowledge and capability to handle it?” questioned Hitchcock.

In order to plug security holes in data networks, Hitchcock, herself a former victim of cyberstalking, who waged and won a personal battle, recommends, “Either one or two hardware firewalls coupled with a software firewall should be always updated with logs, screening potential hackers or trouble causers. Ditto for anti-virus software too.”

“In order to effectively utilize Intrusion Detection Systems (IDS), employees should be adequately trained on how to use and manage it, and take appropriate actions in the eventuality of a security breach. Monitoring of the network architecture finally boils down to a twin combination of hardware and software as well as adept IT personnel,” feels Hitchcock.

As a cybercrime expert, what is the one common motivational factor that plays in the mind of a typical hacker?

“Challenge. It’s the challenge of hacking into a network, enterprise or business that motivates hackers. Cracking into a well-guarded environment is the ultimate high for every trouble causer,” revealed Hitchcock.

“Moreover, hackers try to shortchange the law by constantly creating new and unique ways to hack,” affirmed Hitchcock.

The author’s commitment to helping victims of online crime grew out of her first-hand experience as a victim of cyberstalking.

As president of Working to Halt Online Abuse (WHOA, at www.haltabuse.org) she teaches law enforcement personnel worldwide how to track down cybercriminals and work with victims. She also consults on cybercrime cases for the U.S. Department of Justice, the National Center for Victims of Crime, and police departments nationwide.